About our Gene Research Projects
Our gene researchers study how our genes (which are made up of DNA) influence our chances of getting breast cancer. We hope that by funding this research Prevent Breast Cancer can improve the NHS Breast Cancer Screening Service for the disease by telling women their risk of getting breast cancer based on their genetic code, reassuring at-risk relatives and creating a starting point for developing more personalised breast cancer treatment.
For several years our charity’s research teams have been studying Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (or SNPs – pronounced ‘snips’). These are small fragments of our genes which increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer during her lifetime. They differ from the widely-known gene mutations which are known to cause breast cancer in families, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2.
About our SNPs Research
Our current research project is SNPs 3, which builds on progress of the first two SNPs projects funded by Prevent Breast Cancer. Our original projects found that certain gene fragments led to a woman having a higher risk of developing breast cancer, and validated these results. Thanks to funding from Prevent Breast Cancer, researchers have uncovered 150 SNPs in total which relate to breast cancer risk.
The project examines whether the NHS would be able to test women for their SNPs when they are called in for their first breast screening exam, and give them their results in a timely fashion. The idea is that women will learn whether they are at a low, moderate or high risk of developing breast cancer. We hope that if this study is successful it could be widely available in the UK in 5 years’ time.
This groundbreaking study is led by internationally-recognised breast cancer researcher Professor Gareth Evans (pictured below).
The Impact of this Research
The implications of this study, if successful, are enormous. Instead of the whole population having a mammogram every 3 years, we would be able to divide women into risk groups. Each woman, once she knows her personal risk of breast cancer, can make her own personal choice around altering lifestyle, frequency of screenings, or choosing to take risk-lowering medication. For the population as a whole, this targeted personalised approach to breast cancer risk could allow many more breast cancers to be picked up through screening at a very early stage instead of later.
For more information about this study please click here or download the information on the right hand side of this page.
To donate to projects such as this one, please click here and pick Gene Research from the list of drop down options.